Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Not charitable

Author:Brett Glass
Posted:8/23/2000; 7:07:49 PM
Topic:Next survey: Are you an open source developer?
Msg #:20045 (In response to 20039)
Prev/Next:20044 / 20047

This is going to far -- you are now saying it's wrong for me to give to charity! You say that if I do some work (programming) and create a (software) product, it's wrong of me to give that product away so that other people can use it?

Doing what the GPL does is very different from "giving to charity." Charities give things to those in need and do not discriminate against specific groups. The GPL is anything but a charity, since its goal is destructive and it is not needs-based. It gives software away to users regardless of whether or not they are needy, while withholding code -- in a mean-spirited and intentionally destructive way -- from programmers who might need it.

Giving something away can sometimes be a good thing, but it can also be a very bad thing. For example, it was unethical and wrong for Microsoft to give away Internet Explorer so as to drive Netscape out of business. It is clearly wrong to give away dangerous drugs or poisoned Halowe'en candy.

It is good to give away software that is freely available for everyone's use -- so long as it is truly available to everyone, including developers who wish to incorporate it into their own work. Software that is licensed under a truly free and ethical license, such as the BSD license, has this property. But the GPL attaches a "poison pill" to the software -- not unlike poisoning the candy.

I'm sorry, but this is called competition, and is the cornerstone of our economy (which you are trying so hard to uphold). If someone else does what you do for free, you're going to have to learn to live with it -- that's how competition works.

No; that is called predation. It's what Microsoft did to Netscape. It is anti-competitive, not competitive. It is designed to hurt, not help. It's ironic, indeed, that many GPL adherents despise Microsoft, but do not realize that by embracing the GPL they have adopted one of Microsoft's most nasty practices.

As for Mr. Stallman: He knows exactly what he is doing, and when he feels that he has a sympathetic audience he says so explicitly.

--Brett Glass

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